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Space Technology Research Grants

Engineering Cyanobacteria for the Production of Lightweight Materials

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Project Introduction

Engineering Cyanobacteria for the Production of Lightweight Materials
Future space exploration will demand the development of highly efficient technologies to recycle readily available resources (e.g. in situ resource utilization, ISRU) for the sustainable production of indispensable supplies. Recent development in synthetic biology has enabled controllable cellular behavior and novel metabolic functionalities, leading engineered cells to perform naturally-unachievable tasks. Using synthetic biology methodologies, this project aims to develop a cyanobacterial platform that converts CO2 to lightweight, high-performance materials for critical applications in future NASA space exploration missions (e.g. shuttle repairs, ropes, parachutes, insulation, clothing, seals, packing material, etc.). The ability to generate these materials by ISRU would reduce the need for resupply missions and decrease launch weights, increasing the feasibility of long-distance missions and extraterrestrial colonization. More »

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